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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door – GameCube

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door – GameCube

Paper Mario CoverPlatform: GameCube

Developer: Intelligent Systems

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: October 11th, 2004

Genre:  RPG

Nerd Rating: 8

Reviewed By: Babe Sauce

Flashback to 13 years ago when Paper Mario made its debut. It would become the first of a sparkling trilogy, later marred by the inclusion of a fourth installment, Paper Mario: Sticker Star for 3DS. Sticker Star may be the latest, but certainly not the greatest. The first Paper Mario for Nintendo 64 brought a refreshing brand of graphics to its young players: a 2-dimensional universe that functioned and responded as a 3-dimensional one. Now flash-forward to a few years later where 3-dimensional graphics in video games has become a standard across all platforms. What do we get? Paper Mario 2, our protagonist still the flimsy plumber with his chubby silhouette going on a similar quest to save the Kingdom. But what makes the second installment just as amazing and original as the first? Let’s break it down.

First and probably my favorite: the brand of humor. There have been plenty of games, movies, commercials, and more over the years that were intended to look “cool” and “identifiable” for and with kids. Most of them–including the horror show that is Kids Bop–have failed miserably in actually being smoothly comical without having stupidity as the main ingredient. Paper Mario and the Thousand-Year Door is the exception. It not only carries over the unique sense of humor from the first game, it amplifies it. The dialogue of the game is adjusted vocabulary-wise to fit the vernacular of the time, but it doesn’t go overboard with its attempt. For example, one of the side-kick characters, Goombella, speaks like the young college girl she is with words like “totally” or “gross,” but the game succeeds in giving her just the right amount of cool to make us not want to lock her in her dorm room. A little quirk to having this fiesty young adult as a sidekick is witnessing several of your enemies hitting on her, and her I’m-an-independent-goomba-who-don’t-need-no-man responses.

Paper Mario XNautPaper Mario Goombella

Another character is meant to be a bad mamma-jamma with spiked hair and a leather jacket, but there’s just the right touch of slang and smarts in his vocabulary to make us wish he was real and followed us around in our daily lives. Aside from the characters being just the right amount of cool for their own unique personalities, the dialogue throughout the whole game is surprisingly witty. The humor of the game is the type that doesn’t go stale after you replay it six times–this I can personally attest to. I first played this game as a ten year-old, thinking that I was smart enough to HTML code my way through the school system to change my grades. At that age, I was smiling the entire time I had my butt planted in that comfy blue gaming chair, and a laugh would burst out at least once through every in-game conversation. About a decade later, I replay the game and the jokes are still fresh and there are even some wittier things I missed as a kid that I can more than appreciate as an adult, which is a key success factor in any game for any aged gamer. 

Just to leave you with another idea of this game's smooth-talking romeo's.

Just to end the humor portion on a FINE note.

So the game is funny, what does that do for my adventure quality? The reason that this game only gets an eight is partially because the progression of the game is a hit-or-miss, whether or not it usually hits for most players. It has a very standard structure of going through “chapters” to venture to different parts of the Kingdom to defeat a certain boss or to obtain a certain goal, in this case what we call a “crystal star.” The structure of the story is almost identical to the first in its basic form, but the little twists within each chapter and in between chapters keeps us craving to jump through the pipes or hop on the blimp and sail across the sky. Even more so, aligning with its clever and playful atmosphere and attitude, each new area that we encounter in order to find the crystal star within it has its own sub-culture of playfulness and personality that keeps the game amply interesting. Though the goal of the entire game and the goals of each chapter is clear, the slight monotony we see in the first game from basically following a path to the boss level to beat some poor koopa to a flavorless koopa-pulp is utterly broken. Each chapter is now much more than just seeing a new area or following a path–it goes from sailing off into the sunset to an entire chapter taking place on a train due to… certain circumstances… insert dramatic music here. Wherever we find ourselves, each chapter is surprisingly unique, throwing tasks and obstacles at us that we actually look forward to when we play the game again from the very start.

So it’s a funny game with amusing chapters and dramatic music, is that all it has to offer? NO. As all adventure games should have (save for those masterpieces with already overly complex and thorough primary plotlines, cough cough the Bioshock trilogy, ESPECIALLY ITS LATEST INSTALLMENT: Bioshock Infinite), Paper Mario 2 has a collection of side missions/quests that bring that universe to life, opening backstories for some of the characters as well as rewarding the player with special skills or money. One of the side-mission sources is actually a little shop on the far end of the main town where the player can take on help-wanted-esque jobs “posted” by the characters in the game. Though the reward here is usually coins and a nice little insight to little Goombob’s life, whether or not Goombob is actually a side character or not because I just made that name up on the spot, there are sometimes more useful or quirky rewards such as a “badge” you can equip that changes Mario’s clothes into Luigi’s. Speaking of Luigi, one of the best sides of the game is seeing your good old brother Luigi around town with his own adventure going on. Every time you walk up to him, he, too, has completed a chapter in his very own quest for his very own princess. His stories of courage are admirable, heroic even, and they will stay that way as long as you don’t get the opinion of his sidekicks, who have more than a few choice words for the alleged hero, Luigi.

With the Luigi Badge, you'll get all the girls in town.

With the Luigi Badge, you’ll get all the girls in town.

In conclusion, and in the worst way possible to start the conclusion paragraph of anything ever, the game is one of a kind. Re-playable in its entirety–I’m talking going through every single side mission and still loving every second of it (except maybe for Luigi’s tall tales of heroism). I’d recommend this game to not only any Mario Bros. fan, but also to anyone who is looking for a game that will 99% of the time not stress you out, a game that will have a smile on your face pretty much the whole time, and a game where you can actually relate to each personality of its side characters, whether that be the punk inside of you, the fat over-dramatic woman inside of you, or the quietly shy koopa who seems harmless but has a really hot koopa girlfriend and completely demolishes his enemies. I’m pretty sure that last one hits home with all of us.

By the way, this happens.

By the way, this happens.

Written by Nerd Bacon

Nerd Bacon

 
 

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